It might surprise you but even in this digital age, up to a third of Irish SMEs still don't have a website and about 90% have no e-commerce capabilities. A lack of in-house skills is often cited as a major obstacle among those businesses with no online presence. But in an era of easy access to information there really is no excuse...
In an ideal world, a full-time marketing team or agency would be the way to go. In reality, however, that might be a luxury many SMEs find hard to justify. Even if it doesn't make sense to hire a hotshot digital marketing graduate full-time, you can develop skills among your existing employees.
The knowledge is out there. You can access a whole range of online courses and tutorials for every individual aspect of the the digital marketing mix. These resources can transform even the most technophobic team members into effective online evangelists for your business.
You mightn't magic them into digital marketing maestros overnight but at the very least you can imbue them with the basics needed to boost your digital profile and establish some online business.
Here are five free courses and resources that you can use to help develop a digital dream team.
Diploma in E-Business | Alison
While digital skills are largely practical and driven by the tools you use, it is important to start with a good grounding in the theory. Online learning platform, Alison, offers an excellent Diploma in E-Business course.
It's free and offers students access to 15 modules designed to increase understanding of what online marketing involves and how to develop a digital marketing strategy.
The perfect blend of classroom theory and practical introductions, this course requires about 6-10 hours of intensive work.
You can learn more about it here and Alison is also a great place to pick up other learning experiences.
Complete Wordpress Training for Beginners | Udemy
Once you've got the basics covered, you'll recognise the need for a website. While there are a lot of options in terms of platforms and content management systems, Wordpress is the world's most popular and for good reason.
Udemy offers a free course that will give you a solid introduction to this ubiquitous content management system and all of the knowledge you need to build and manage your very own professional website.
The course comprises of 4-hours of online video, and 16 downloadable learning resources. You can access from mobile and the course culminates in a certificate of completion.
You'll find all of the details here and when you're done you'll discover lots of other useful topics covered on Udemy.
Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimisation | Moz
Unfortunately, the old adage "build it and they will come" doesn't really apply when it comes to digital marketing.
Just because you've now got a lovely, new Wordpress site up and running, you can't expect a horde of hungry customers to come knocking on your digital door.
You need to help people find you online. This involves familiarising yourself with the wonderful world of Search Engine Optimisation. Essentially this is about making your site attractive to search engines, and ensuring that you show up near the top of the list when people are searching for your products or services.
It's a multi-billion euro industry, and you could spend a lifetime or millions trying to master this often elusive art. That said, a little knowledge can go a long way.
Moz is a leading authority in this space. They offer a range of premium tools to help enhance your search performance.
Thankfully, they also offer a very useful beginners guide to SEO. Over 10 chapters, they layout all of the basics and give you lots of practical insights you can use to help your customers find you online.
You can access this guide here.
PPC University | Wordstream
SEO can be a slow-burn and outcomes can be difficult to predict. Advertising online can be an effective way to attract relevant visitors to your site.
There are lots of options when it comes to digital advertising but if you've finally managed to allocate a bit of budget to online ads, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is the best place to start.
Google Ads is the most common and most effective option. This will get ads for your business showing on page 1 of search results, when your SEO efforts have fallen short.
Google offers lots of learning resources to help you get to grips with their PPC platform, but we also like PPC University from Wordstream.
Their first course PPC 101 is free and will give you the confidence you need to create and manage your own PPC ad programme.
You'll find all of the information about that course here.
Inbound Certification | Hubspot Academy
Hubspot offers a range of slick digital marketing tools over a range of premium packages.
But even if you've opted to build a site in Wordpress, Hubspot Academy offers a range of free courses and resources that can help you build your inbound and content marketing skills.
Their Inbound Certification course covers the basics of what 'inbound' is all about.
Over 7 lessons, more than 2 hours of video and 3 quizzes, you will get to grips with the basics of developing an inbound marketing channel.
Course completion results in a handy certification, and it opens the door to a much wider range of learning opportunities across the Hubspot Academy.
You can read the details about this course here.
Maybe you have some team members with a natural interest in technology. There might be the odd employee with extra time on their hands, or someone looking to expand their horizons and build their CV.
Making these courses part of a training plan for someone on your team will undoubtedly contribute to your SME's online success.
If you've got plans to invest in a website, e-commerce or other digital marketing project, Linked Finance can help. With business loans of up to €300K in just one day, we can provide the funding you need to succeed online.